Book review: ShieldWall
review by Becky
The year is 1016 and England burns while the Viking armies blockade the great city of London. King Ethelred lies dying and the England he knew dies with him; the warring kingdoms of Mercia, Wessex and Northymbria tremble on the brink of great change. One man lives to bear witness to the upheaval: Godwin, barely out of boyhood and destined to become one of his country's great warriors. When Ethelred's son Edmund takes the throne, determined to succeed where his father failed, he plucks Godwin from domestic peace to be right-hand man in his loyal shield wall. Godwin must traverse the meadows, wintry forests and fogbound marshes of Saxon England, raising armies of monks, ploughmen and shepherds against the Viking invader. With epic courage and ferocity, Godwin and Edmund repel the butchering Danes in three great battles. But an old enemy, the treacherous Earl Eadric, dogs Godwin's footsteps, and as the final battle approaches, around the valiant English the trap begins to close.
Available on Amazon.com Shieldwall
Wow! I felt like I had lived a whole life through this book and in a way we have and a life of one Godwin Wulfnothson. You may only recognise the first name and not the last. This because as much as an incredibly hard yet deeply honourable life Godwin led we all know more about his son, Harold. I shouldn't have to explain why.
I think the reason I loved this story so deeply is due to the little details, small glimpses, daily delights that kept reminding me as a reader that all these characters were people were human. That they all had dreams and desires. They did have weaknesses as well as strengths and could all act out for good or for bad. And they all often had to make life changing decisions that challenged their world view or even faith in what was right and what was wrong. Prime example being the way Edmund Ironside, once King, accepted Eadric Streona, a known traitor, back into the fold simply to try and keep the peace. Although I am not ashamed at admitting I restrained a cheer in a public place when I read his fitting end *sorry spoiler alert*.
I have not read many stories from the Anglo-Saxon point of view during this most turbulent part of English history - a darn sight more complicated than the War of the Roses and even Civil War!
As much as I am a fan of Cnuts achievement as King and Queen Emma for surviving 4 Kings (2 Husbands, 2 Sons) I in the end felt great pity for the common English people who had to live during all this. From the mistakes of Ethelread & Swein's invasion through the many close victories but stubborn failures of Edmund against Cnut.
This was a hugely enjoyable read and really brought history to live through superb imagery of scenes, landscapes, weather and the details from clothing, travel, food, location, language and actions of the low and high born.
I really cant understand how it has sat on my Kindle so long unread apart from probably reading too many other good books.
I look forward to its hopeful sequel portraying the emergence of Harald Hardrada - there are storm clouds on the horizon (if you know the history you know what is to come, 1066 is some way off yet).
Becky also has a review of Justin Hill's Viking Fire. Check it out right here
Want to adventure throught the lands of the Vikings? The height of the Vikings is an amazing period of time and there is a lot of great fiction that is based on historical facts from that period and place. Rebecca Wilson has written a guide to the genre and to some of the best works in the genre.
If you are fascinated by the subject of Vikings you should check out her blog at: http://www.soulchaserbecky.blogspot.com/
You can follow her on Twitter @soulchaserbecky.
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